In this era of chaos, incivility, self-centeredness and decreased focus on diversity, one has to dig deep to determine what is of value and what has stood the test of time. APA has done just that. There is no question that APA has experienced some dark periods, such as our Independent Review, but we have always learned and eventually prospered.
When APA was founded 125 years ago, a group of individuals decided that "the status quo was no longer viable." They first met at Clark University in the summer of 1892 and subsequently as a small convention at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in December: 31 men from various backgrounds came together to develop "a new psychology."
Since then, we have gone from 31 members—all men, all white, all academics—to 117,675, of which over 60 percent are women, with a majority being clinicians. Today, more than 100,000 bachelor's degrees in psychology are conferred each year and over 250,000 people take the Advanced Placement exam in high school. Not only have we grown and diversified, but our pipeline remains strong.
As we celebrate this year, it is important to acknowledge that many pillars still stand:
- Psychology is a science.
- 125 years is one of the longest tenures of any scientific, pedagogical or professional society in the world.
- APA and psychology evolve. For example, we had been mostly men, now we are mostly women. We were mostly academics, now we are mostly practitioners.
- Regardless of challenge, we have always transformed and expanded our vision and mission.
- We are only as good as our future. We must feel comfortable in this time of chaos, as we will not only survive but will also prosper and lead.
And, as we move forward to embrace the future, here are some activities and ideas central to APA's rebirth:
- APA's internal management group is being rebuilt.
- APA is diversifying and expanding, demographically, intellectually and internationally.
- APA is thinking in new ways. One exciting activity is the Memorandum of Understanding between APA and IBM Watson to study the creation of new models of artificial intelligence for behavioral health and psychology.
- We are focusing efforts not only to make our role in mental health stronger, but also to build our presence and impact all of health care. From seeking inclusion in the definition of physician in Medicare to helping shape new health-care policy, APA will be at the table and results will be achieved.
Let us celebrate our history and expand our horizons: An APA for all members and a psychology for all of society.
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